Governors Ball, Day 2: Heat Strokes
Lucius A standard band but with a twist: two singers! Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig met at Berklee, so not only can they sing well, but they can harmonize elegantly and flawlessly. I saw only half of the show because the crowd to get in to the festival was outrageous on this, the hottest of the three days. Their balance was good all-around and they managed to lull a crowd of hot, angry festival goers. They played through most of their debut album, Wildewoman. Check it out if you haven't yet, as this band is off to a good start.
Here is a sample of their gentler side:
Chance the Rapper
Kanye is not the only rapper to come out of Chicago, we also have Chance the Rapper. (You say the whole thing, his name is not Chance.) I was too far in the back to be in the action, but his was clearly a bumping, live performance, attended primarily by...teenage girls? That part seemed strange. He had plenty of brassy riffs to accent his danceable beats. The highlight was seeing the look of discovery on audience faces when they realized he was singing the theme song to the childhood cartoon, Arthur.
I was hotly anticipating this collaboration between James Mercer of The Shins, and Danger Mouse because I love everything Danger Mouse does. They looked more professional than any other performers, managing to wear full suits in the miserable heat. Danger Mouse showed off his musical prowess by rotating between keys, guitar, and drums, all while supplying backing vocals. Mercer’s wistful voice perfectly set the mood for the songs from their new, electro-dirge (a term I just coined) album, After the Disco.
The reason for the spike in crowding, I suspect, The Strokes had people lining up several hours before their show. I was crammed up front, no way to reach for my phone or move my feet, and the heat had everyone drenched. Several people passed out within my visual field. Who would be next? All this suffering for the reunion of a band that had not played together in 5 years. People began chanting, perhaps inappropriately, “we want Strokes!” The mood changed instantly when they came on stage. The band played flawlessly through every riff and beat, but Julian Casablancas seemed to forget some words. It didn't matter because we were all shout-singing along. Impressively, he hit every note in the chorus of “One Way Trigger”. Worth the wait and medical trauma? I guess, even if just to say, “The Strokes show during their hiatus? Yeah I was there.”
I have a strange fondness for the aggressive sounds of this Brooklyn noise rock duo, and so did everyone else there it seemed. Everyone knew all of the lyrics, despite the focus of sound being on megaton bass and screaming guitars. Indeed, this was the loudest show I attended. The venue being an enclosed tent certainly helped, but I could feel myself being jostled back by just the downbeat of their first song. The energy on stage was infectious, compelling the audience to move as much as possible with every stroke of Derek Miller’s guitar. Alexis Krauss is not the greatest live singer, sounding more like a pseudo-rapper, but the nature of their songs is not conducive to singing melodically. Again, the energy and sheer volume were the highlights of this show.
This tied for first (with Outkast) for best show of the weekend. Jack White spent half of the time jamming with his backing band (which included a violinist; I was happy to see my instrument), and that alone was worth seeing because of his virtuosity as a guitarist. They would transition into songs from both his solo career, and his time as one half of The White Stripes, which prompted several audience sing alongs. The stage was doused in blue, as per the color scheme of his new album, Lazaretto, and he started right on time. That's unheard of at a concert! The simple stage setup allotted some thematic continuity but did not distract from the music. And this was some if the best music of the weekend.